Re: virus: Re: Technology (was manifest science)

Brett Robertson (
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 10:52:02 -0500 (EST)

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Blind evolution (mere genes, and procreation) doesn't explain how "innovation" and "creativity" are "invented"... but MEMETICS might. That is, good ideas get passed on.

We might also assuming that the patterns which foster these ideas "evolve". Thus, the basic meme, as a pattern, must be superior to the "pattern" noted by Darwin (mere chance).

As such, *evolution* may seem a poor metaphor for *innovation*; but similarly *memetics* seems a great innovation to the idea of Darwinian theory (as a way to include the innovation of innovation within a logical discussion).

This is not to say that "technology" is a superior term to genetics (it IS). Why would not the *technology* of evolution suggest that humans are memetic developments... and that genetics is "for the birds"* (since technology is an example of the mechanics of ordered evolution-- the so-called "advanced" pattern which defines memetics)?

*OR: If you don't like the idea of ordered development... go study genetics

Brett Lane Robertson
Indiana, USA
MindRecreation Metaphysical Assn.
BIO: ...........
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Dylan Durst <> wrote (in two separate posts, actually):
> Evolution has brought us to innovation.

In a manner of speaking, yes..

Let's start by definitions.

>From Wordsmyth:

1. a new method, approach, idea, or the like. 2. the act of proposing or implementing such a new

method or the like.

>From Webster:

1. The act of innovating; introduction of something new, in customs, rites, etc.
2. A change effected by innovating; a change in customs; something new, and contrary to established customs, manners, or rites. 3. (Bot.) A newly formed shoot, or the annually produced addition to the stems of many mosses.

>From WordNet:

1: a new device or process created by study and experimentation

[syn: {invention}]
2: the creation of something in the mind

[syn: {invention}, {excogitation}, {conception}, {design}]

It would seem that you're really talking about the penultimate of these meanings, and thus really mean "invention", right?

1. The act of finding out or inventing; contrivance or construction of that which has not before existed; as, the invention of logarithms; the invention of the art of printing.

  1. the creation of something in the mind [syn: {innovation}, {excogitation}, {conception}, {design}]
  2. a new device or process created by study and experimentation [syn: {innovation}]
  3. the act of inventing

> Multi-cellular organization brought us to organs and muscles (and us, i
>assume). At the time, it was probably an 'innovation,' but now it is an
>evolved, hmmm, 'condition'(?).

OK, you could hardly mean that muscles are new ideas or customs, so I'll assume that I'm right in that you really mean innovation in its meaning of "invention"..

But claiming that evolution is "inventing" anything is pure bollocks. Evolution is simply the process by which things that replicate faster and more accurately, and that live longer/are more stable become more plentiful in comparison to things that do not. Nothing else. In the case of evolution of organisms, you could possibly say that mutation or the process of recombination of genetic material by sexual procreation "invents" something (completely at random, with no purpose or intentionality), but it's hardly a very useful metaphor. After all, the word "invent" implies conscious direction of the process..

Mutation creates the variations that evolution (completely without purpose or intentionality) act upon. "Better" variations become more plentiful. Repeat ad infinitum. That's all there is to it. For organisms, procreation is generally more important than longevity. This seems to be due to the fact that the environment may change rather drastically and rapidly at times, and in those circumstances it's better to adapt quickly (many individuals, many generations in a comparatively short time gives mutation and recombination greater likelihood to produce something that is better at surviving and procreating in the "new" environment) than to live a long time. The long-lived
parents that are maladapted would only steal resources from their own children.

> Innovation is just another part of evolution. As long as it is useful,
>it will stick. Just like, arms & legs, words, drums, telephones. Yes, the
>code for a telephone does not exist in our DNA, neither is the code for
>some of the nutrients that we need to survive. But our body parts
>dependent on those nutrients, as may become dependent on raw materials for
>our innovations.

You're slightly off the mark. Things don't "stick as long as they are useful",
evolutionarily speaking; they stay as long as they either contribute to our longevity and/or procreation _or don't inhibit these factors_. Things that are
completely useless can stick around for _long_ spans of time. Incidentally, there
are interesting theories that most of our (non-externally caused) diseases of
old age are there simply because they don't interfere with our reproduction.

Things that happen to individuals when they no longer are likely to reproduce
don't really matter, since procreation is more important than longevity.

As to your last sentence.. I'm not certain of what you mean by it. _What_ may
become "dependent on raw materials for our innovation"? Not our survival as a
species, I assure you.. Our possibility of inventing new things may be circumscribed by lack of raw materials.. or at least the mass-production of new
inventions may. I don't see what that has to do with evolution.

>> Mommy and Daddy Innovation?
>> Innovation requires intentionality and creativity; evolution is a dumb
>> blind process, possessing neither of these.

Exactly.. which is why evolution requires a _much much_ longer timescale to work, compared to human inventiveness. The latter is consciously directed, the former isn't.

> I can look at someones CAT scan (or whatever) and call someones
>thoughts dumb and blind (just reactions to their environment, imho). I can

Of course you can (you may say whatever you like, including that you see an invisible pink unicorn), but what would you mean by it? A s9i

>look at the world from age 0 to now with my Objective Glasses on and see
>it the same way. I can become conscious and learn to make tools and toys
>and all sorts of material organizations that comes out of my head, but
>I'll still look at an Anteater and think of it as a 'hella' creative way
>for evolution to work.

And it's "true". In the case of your being conscious and capable of inventing
things, that's the same thing. Effects of evolution. The effects are in no way
"creative", though, however "creative" they may seem to someone who doesn't understand how evolution works.

> I'm looking for a word that describes all of this in one. One that

You could look at what Dawkins calls "the extended phenotype".. in a way, our technology could be considered part of our extended phenotype. But that doesn't imply that technology is subject to the same kind of "evolution" as humans do, only that they are codependent.

>refers to technology as just another trail of evolution.

The analogy to evolution is weak. Conscious direction of the process makes the "evolution" of technology something rather different from the evolution of organisms, or molecules.. it's hard enough to make the analogy between memetic and biological evolution useful, despite the (in my opinion) greater similarity..